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Zara Restaurant and Lounge


Problem & Solution

Problem Worth Solving

Where do you go in Atlanta that caters to the young but mature adult crowd? Where do you have a client or business partnership meeting when presentation is everything? Atlanta is filling with refined trendy fashion forward technology workers who need somewhere to go. They want to a trendy place sit and have a drink and relax with like minded people. Get a really good meal with people who appreciate good food. Businesses need somewhere to make a reservation when their success is dependent on showing the client they know how to give them the treatment they deserve. A lot of clients equate that with respect. Its the difference between landing a account and having them go with someone else. 

Our Solution

Zara will be an inspiring restaurant, combining an eclectic atmosphere with excellent and interesting food. The mission is to have not only a great food selection, but also efficient and superior service – customer satisfaction is our paramount objective. Zara will be the restaurant of choice for a mature and adult crowd, couples and singles, young and old, male or female.

Target Market

Market Size & Segments

Market Segmentation

Zara’s Restaurant & Lounge intends to cater to a wide customer base. We want everyone to feel welcome and entertained. We have defined the following groups as targeted segments that contribute to our growth projections:

  • The Business Person
  • Downtown Atlanta Couples
  • The Destination Customer
  • High-End Singles
  • Tourists

These particular market segments are 25-45 years old, have disposable income, and are seeking upscale, trendy, and comfortable restaurant options. These are the types of people who frequent other restaurants and bars in the area. They are likely to spend more on experiences they perceive as unique, cosmopolitan, and sophisticated. They are also the most open to trying something new, foodwise, and will embrace our international fusion cuisine. 

Target Market Segment Strategy

The Business Person: They work hard all day and often stay overnight in a strange city. They need a competent establishment that helps impress clients and prospects. Afterward, they want to relax and use the money they are making (or is expensed by their company). They spend the most on drinks, food and tips. Zara’s cosmopolitan flair and comfortable atmosphere will be perfect for sophisticated business people, whether they live in and around Atlanta or are here for work.

Downtown Atlanta Couples: The restaurant will have an intimate, romantic, enticing adult atmosphere that suggests "date." Zara’s will be the best date location in town. These young Midtown couples are generally very successful working professionals. In most cases they are budgeting to eat out on a regular basis, as they don’t have the time to prepare food nightly.

The Destination Customer: Atlanta is a very ‘sectioned’ city, and consumers often look only in their own neighborhoods for restaurant options. Zara will break these habits, using marketing to draw customers from outside the main city limits. Zara will be a destination restaurant. Our Destination Clients tend to be new suburbanites that miss the excitement of the inner city. They have disposable income, and will spend quite a bit on such outings. Zara’s will be especially appealing to married suburban couples indulging themselves with a "date night" downtown, away from  the kids. Many of these consumers are new to Atlanta from larger cities, accustomed to dining within the city and at non-franchised restaurants.

High-end Singles: We will attract them with our eclectic atmosphere and layout. Our international menu, striking decor, entertainment and events, excellent service and engaging clientele will confirm the feeling of being in "the in place" in Atlanta. These are the individuals that pride themselves on socializing and dining at the premier locations – The Image Seekers.

Tourists: Atlanta attracts many vacationers during the summer months of May through September. Zara’s will be a destination dining locale, with its attractive atmosphere, international menu, and lounge. A large percentage of the tourist population are vacationing singles, here to socialize and be entertained. This is especially true for the tourist population that visit for sporting and social events – they are not interested in family establishments.


Current Alternatives

Competitor Analysis

Below are excerpts from our competitive analysis study.

1. The Kitchen (Direct Competitor):

We were able to draw some conclusions from this analysis that helped defined the concept and positioning for Zara: 1) Keep the menu pricing modest but offer superior food quality and presentation. We plan to keep the menu prices under $20; 2) Midtown is a prime restaurant location. One Midtown Kitchen is in an obscure location but has thrived as one of the more successful restaurants in the area; and 3) The customer base in this segment of Atlanta is ready for after-hours dining, and is willing to travel to establishments that accommodate their needs.

2. Lunaci (Direct Competitor):

This restaurant is a main competitor for Zara, a casual dining restaurant that has evolved to be a great success story for the Midtown district. This restaurant served to validate 1) the tapas concept appeal for Midtown customers; 2) the evolving need for after-hours dining; 3) tapas as a good food concept for after-hours dining (smaller portions, smaller price); 4) the appeal of live Entertainment.

3. Cumulus (Indirect Competitor)

This restaurant has grown in popularity over the years, and has gained popularity as a destination restaurant that can cater to business professionals as well as the local residents. The menu is somewhat formal for this market segment, but the bar attracts a good crowd. During this study it was evident that some patrons came exclusively to sit at the bar, without any intent of dining in the restaurant.

Cumulus is more of a formal dining restaurant and meets a certain need within the community, but I don’t see it as a direct competitor of Zara. I do feel that it has some very special elements that have helped it succeed over the past 3 years, which Zara can benefit from.

4. Cheesecake Factory (#1 Restaurant Comparison):

Although Cheesecake Factory is outside of Zara’s restaurant district and not considered a direct competitor, it was beneficial to analyze the most profitable restaurant in Atlanta to understand what contributes to their success. Cheesecake Factor offers several key elements that would also benefit Zara: 1) Customer Satisfaction through moderate pricing and high-quality food; 2) Location selection to benefit from core customer demographics, situated in a busy/popular area for both business and residential traffic; 3) Exceptional Service, from the Valet, to Hosting, to Wait, Bus, and Bar staff; and 4) Menu Variety, offering a broad array of menu items.

5. Swing Restaurant (Indirect Competitor):

This restaurant is not in our market district and therefore not a direct competitor, although we do consider it an ‘indirect’ competitor. Swing incorporates some of the characteristics that we have mapped out for Zara. Those elements are: 1) A Tapas and Entrée menu – realizing that customers want varied meal size and variety; 2) A club type atmosphere to entice the single scene and to drive bar sales.

Swing validates some of the elements uncovered in our market research as to what the new Atlanta diners are looking for. This serves as a true validation that the timing is right for the Zara Restaurant & Lounge concept.


Failed Restaurant Analysis : Mumbo Jumbo
Mumbo Jumbo was an Atlanta restaurant attraction in the downtown core, a strong competitor that was severely impacted by the patronage demise after 9/11. I also completed an analysis of this restaurant back in 1999 and compared it to this current analysis in 2003. Several factors led to closing of this restaurant:

This was a very cosmopolitan restaurant located in a core business community. The restaurant was hidden in cross streets and away from the general street traffic. This was a destination restaurant and a secondary selection for the general customer base in this area.

Lesson Learned:  As part of this analysis, we have determined that the downtown core is not a good fit for the Zara concept. We will limit our site selection to the core Midtown district and the upper Downtown district. Midtown is Atlanta’s major growth district and is developing the residential infrastructure in pace with the business infrastructure.

Customer Segment: 
Atlanta’s downtown core is not ready for this type of restaurant. Atlanta’s downtown core is a business district, and residential development for this area is at the Genesis state. The primary customer base is the business person and tourist. The largest percentage of this customer segment will be looking for a restaurant in which to conduct business or a family establishment; Mumbo Jumbo would not be a primary selection in either case.

Lesson Learned:  Zara’s target market demographics are perfectly in alignment with the Midtown profile. Midtown has a business core as well as a residential core. We will look to the business core for our primary daytime business, but to our residential core for our dinner and after-hours patronage. In addition, the business core will look to Zara as a place of socialization for dinner and after-hours unwinding. Mumbo Jumbo depended on the business segment for their lunch and dinner profits, and customers who would travel from outside the downtown district to eat at the restaurant – there was no static dinner segment.

Hand-in-hand with location, this restaurant also suffered from poor visibility. In the downtown core a large percentage of business is from walk-in traffic. The business and tourist customers tend to select a restaurant from touring the area and accessibility. Mumbo Jumbo was situated on a cross street behind the main street.

Lesson Learned:  Although being situated on a main street is not as key in the Midtown district, we will ensure that visibility is part of our site selection criteria. In addition, we will use signage and exterior décor as means to attract customers and get noticed.

In all, this restaurant was a staple in Atlanta’s downtown core for over 10 years, but key restaurant disciplines (Location, Customer Segment, Visibility) came back to hurt them as the economic climate changed.


Our Advantages

Besides the lessons learned listed above, Zara’s competitive edges are:

  1. The owners’ thorough understandings of opening and running a restaurant
  2. An extraordinary contemporary restaurant design
  3. International menu with featured menu changes every 4 months
  4. Unique, 3-Tiered spatial layout
  5. Chef Co-op program to allow new entrants, trainee and featured chef
  6. Chef/Management Stock Incentive Program.
  7. Inner and Outer City Marketing campaign (i.e. "Come to Town" promotions)
  8. Employee Training, Incentive and Retention program

Keys to Success

Keys to Success

Our keys to success are: 

  1. Unique, Innovative & Contemporary: The creation of a unique and innovative fine dining atmosphere will differentiate us from the competition. The restaurant will stand out from the other restaurants in the area because of the unique design and decor. We will offer a fine dining experience in an electric atmosphere.
  2. Product quality: great food, great service and atmosphere.
  3. ‘Spice of Life’ Menu: The menu will appeal to a wide and varied clientele. Our eclectic menu features regional specialties around the globe, from Spanish ceviche, to Thai and Indian curries, to local crabcakes.
  4. Employee Retention Focus: Employee retention and development programs will be a primary focus and success platform for this business. Through these programs, we will be able to draw seasoned and elite professionals and build a committed work force. We have budgeted for a stock option program for Chef and Management positions to subsidize a lower salary base. This lowers our immediate overhead and attracts quality staff.  
  5. Cost Control Focus: We will control costs at all times, without exception. Cost Control will be an integrated function of the restaurant from the onset. Cost control is about managing the numbers – interpreting and comparing the numbers that impact the bottom line. 80 percent of the success of a restaurant is determined before it opens. Our focus is to reduce the cost of goods sold to meet our profit margin goals by managing the following crucial elements of cost: Purchasing, Receiving, Storage, Issuing Inventory, Rough Preparation, Service Preparation, Portioning, Order Taking, Cash Receipts, Bank Deposits and Accounts Payable. We will use of this restaurant/ethnic food business plan to track actual costs against our forecasts in managing the business. 

Due to intense competition, restauranteurs must look for ways to differentiate their business to achieve and maintain a competitive advantage. Midtown/Downtown Atlanta’s redevelopment requires a place that will fit into the ‘new look’ of the community, one that is contemporary and entertaining. Zara will fill that niche.